Robert Daniel Crandell

by Kevin Brennan

From the annals of the impossibly improbable comes this mind-boggling tale.

Robert Daniel Crandell decided, at last, to act on his obsession. The actress must die. She had ignored him long enough, and it was time to do something about it.

Her career had taken off so fast that he was certain it was his own telepathic powers that had made the magic happen. He was responsible for her stardom. Yet she wouldn’t acknowledge his letters, his emails, the gifts he sent by messenger, and she wouldn’t buzz him through her security gate either. It had been easy to find out where she lived. Possibly too easy, people were likely to say if he succeeded in his mission.

He purchased a long gun. A .30-06 rifle suitable for deer hunting. This would cause no suspicion, he figured. He could say he was interested in hunting deer. He didn’t need the scope but he purchased one anyway. To avoid suspicion.

As he’d seen in the news, a great plan would be to dress as a FedEx or UPS man and carry the rifle in a long box up to the house.

When the actress buzzed him through the security gate, all he’d have to do was unbox it and fulfill his destiny. It would be so easy.

Perhaps too easy, people were likely to say later.

And it was unbelievably easy to purchase a uniform that looked so much like a UPS uniform that nobody would be able to tell the difference until it was too late.

Everything was in place. Robert Daniel Crandell was ready.

He decided to do it in the morning, before the actress could leave for a day of acting or rehearsing or whatever. Nine thirty seemed about right.

He pulled up to the security gate in his Toyota SUV, parked, went to the buzzer and pressed the buzzer button. When the actress’s voice—he’d know it anywhere—said “Yes?” Robert Daniel Crandell said “UPS, ma’am.”

The buzzer buzzed and the gate began to creep open.

He was nearly to the door of the beautiful Italianate house, walking with his long gun in its long box, when he heard a strange sound behind him.

He turned to find another UPS man, and this UPS man was also carrying a long box that could easily have held inside it a long gun just like Robert Daniel Crandell’s. This man had a pale, bug-eyed face that made him look like he was on something.

“What the fuck?” said Robert Daniel Crandell. “Who are you?”

“UPS,” the man said. “What are you doing here?”

The only real difference in their uniforms was that the other man was wearing brown shorts instead of long pants. But there was something odd about the logo on his shirt pocket. It didn’t look quite right. Just like Robert Daniel Crandell’s didn’t look quite right, to be honest. Not that the actress would be able to tell in the short time she’d have to react.

The two men seemed to reach the same understanding at the exact same time, and when the other man started to run toward the actress’s front door, Robert Daniel Crandell ran too. He saw the other man start to open his long box and realized that he was taking out a long gun, just like his own long gun, even if it wasn’t a .30-06.

Robert Daniel Crandell slammed into him and knocked the gun out of his grip, and just at that moment the actress opened her door and let out a bone-chilling scream. She was wearing running shorts and a pink tank top and had her hair up in a messy bun. She looked adorable.

Robert Daniel Crandell tried to get his long gun out so he could carry out his destiny, but the other man blindsided him, and they both fell into the lush ground cover and started wrestling for supremacy. It wasn’t long before they heard sirens.

It seems that the actress had some kind of panic button linked to the local police precinct. Her door was now closed tight while

Robert Daniel Crandell and the other man fought it out. In a few seconds they both heard a man’s voice shout, “FREEEEEEZE!” They stopped fighting and sat up to face their captors.

When the smoke cleared, what became obvious was that two demented men had become obsessed with the same adorable actress at the same time and had chosen the same day to carry out the same demented plan.

The human mind remains as mysterious as the cosmos itself.

This has been another mind-boggling tale from the annals of the impossibly improbable.

* * *

Kevin Brennan is the author of six novels, including Parts Unknown (William Morrow/HarperCollins), Yesterday Road, and, most recently, Eternity Began Tomorrow. His short fiction has appeared in the Berkeley Review, Mid-American Review, Every Day Fiction, and others. He’s also the editor of The Disappointed Housewife, a literary magazine for writers of offbeat and idiosyncratic fiction, poetry, and essays. Kevin lives with his wife in California’s Sierra foothills.

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